District 64 board ditches vote on full-day kindergarten plan
After a lengthy debate Thursday night, the Park Ridge-Niles School District 64 board opted not to vote on a plan to offer full-day kindergarten classes at all five of the district's elementary schools and renovate a different building.
The plan didn't have the support of a majority of trustees.
Board member Tom Sotos favors offering all-day kindergarten but opposes this particular plan. Sotos questioned the proposed cost of the project, which could exceed $25 million and result in a tax-rate increase, and he said voters should decide the matter.
Other board members said they want to first get residents' opinions via a survey.
In the minority, board member Phyllis Lubinski voiced support for the proposal.
"When is it ever a bad idea to invest in the education of our kids?" she asked the panel.
The board's inaction frustrated President Denise Pearl.
"We've talked about this forever, and this board is not (taking action) again," Pearl said. "They're passing the buck."
Eventually, the board informally decided to vote at its next meeting on whether to commission a professional survey about all-day kindergarten options.
It couldn't take such a vote Thursday because a survey wasn't on the agenda.
Superintendent Eric Olson has said officials have four options:
• Sticking with half-day kindergarten, renovating Jefferson School in Niles and moving the district headquarters there from the Hendee Educational Service Center in Park Ridge.
• Renovating Jefferson, moving the district offices there and turning the building into a full-day kindergarten center.
• Offering full-day kindergarten at all the elementary schools and renovating Jefferson.
• Offering full-day kindergarten at all the elementary schools, renovating Jefferson and moving the headquarters there.
That last option was on the agenda Thursday. But the board members never called for a vote.
"We're not ready to vote on an option," said Trustee Gareth Kennedy, one of the survey proponents.
Pearl said a survey will delay any potential construction project one year.
If District 64 added full-day kindergarten classes, it still would offer a half-day option. That's required by the state.